Richard M. Stallman invented the Texinfo format, wrote the initial
processors, and created Edition 1.0 of this manual. Robert J.
Chassell greatly revised and extended the manual, starting with
Edition 1.1. Brian Fox was responsible for the standalone Texinfo
distribution until version 3.8, and originally wrote the standalone
info programs. Karl Berry has
continued maintenance since Texinfo 3.8 (manual edition 2.22).
Our thanks go out to all who helped improve this work, particularly the indefatigable Eli Zaretskii and Andreas Schwab, who have provided patches beyond counting. François Pinard and David D. Zuhn, tirelessly recorded and reported mistakes and obscurities. Zack Weinberg did the impossible by implementing the macro syntax in texinfo.tex. Thanks to Melissa Weisshaus for her frequent reviews of nearly similar editions. Dozens of others have contributed patches and suggestions, they are gratefully acknowledged in the ChangeLog file. Our mistakes are our own.
In the 1970’s at CMU, Brian Reid developed a program and format named
Scribe to mark up documents for printing. It used the
character to introduce commands, as Texinfo does. Much more
consequentially, it strove to describe document contents rather than
formatting, an idea wholeheartedly adopted by Texinfo.
Meanwhile, people at MIT developed another, not too dissimilar format called Bolio. This then was converted to using TeX as its typesetting language: BoTeX. The earliest BoTeX version seems to have been 0.02 on October 31, 1984.
BoTeX could only be used as a markup language for documents to be printed, not for online documents. Richard Stallman (RMS) worked on both Bolio and BoTeX. He also developed a nifty on-line help format called Info, and then combined BoTeX and Info to create Texinfo, a mark up language for text that is intended to be read both online and as printed hard copy.
Moving forward, the original translator to create Info was written
(primarily by RMS and Bob Chassell) in Emacs Lisp, namely the
texinfo-format-buffer and other functions. In the early 1990s,
Brian Fox reimplemented the conversion program in C, now called
In 2012, the C
makeinfo was itself replaced by a Perl
implementation generically called
texi2any. This version
supports the same level of output customization as
texi2html, an independent program originally written by
Lionel Cons, later with substantial work by many others. The many
additional features needed to make
texi2html a replacement
makeinfo were implemented by Patrice Dumas. The first
never-released version of
texi2any was based on the
texi2html code. That implementation, however, was abandoned
in favor of the current program, which parses the Texinfo input into a
tree for processing. It still supports nearly all the features of
The new Perl program is much slower than the old C program. We hope
the speed gap will close in the future, but it may not ever be
entirely comparable. So why did we switch? In short, we intend and
hope that the present program will be much easier than the previous C
makeinfo to extend to different output
styles, back-end output formats, and all other customizations.
In more detail:
texi2htmlfor years. Thus, in effect two independent implementations of the Texinfo language had developed, and keeping them in sync was not simple. Adding the HTML customization possible in
texi2htmlto a C program would have been an enormous effort.
makeinfo, it would have been tantamount to rewriting the entire program. In Perl, much of that comes essentially for free.
makeinfocode had become convoluted to the point where adding a new back-end was quite complex, requiring complex interactions with existing back-ends. In contrast, our Perl implementation provides a clean tree-based representation for all back-ends to work from. People have requested numerous different back-ends (LaTeX, the latest (X)HTML, …), and they will now be much more feasible to implement. Which leads to the last item:
See Reference Implementation, for more on the rationale for and